#40MStrong: The Importance Of Voter Empowerment Outside Of Social Media

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With only four months go before voter registration ends, empowering marginalized groups and at-risk communities to vote is vital in the fight for our democracy.

Related: Your Vote Matters: What The PH Can Learn From The US Elections 2020

Voting is a basic human right but despite being so, the impact of non-voters and uninformed voters continue to persist over the years. In the Philippines, vote-buying is a norm during the election season and there are already reports of widespread illegal campaigningl in the provinces and rural areas. Social media is not an exception to this as well. As an easy and free avenue to spread information to a wider audience, politicians and party lists have been using it to influence the public and spread fake news.

I remember just a few years ago where our former ate came to visit and told us that vote-buying has started in her barangay–giving out cash, cellphones, and sacks of rice to those who are willing. Admitting her participation, she explains that her vote won’t make a difference and they need the help that they can get now. Here we see that vote-buying isn’t about Filipinos being irresponsible but it’s the systematic barriers that affect those whose very lives are shaped by social insecurity and political struggle. Having failed and neglected to be given access to the right information on why they need to register and ultimately vote, we are also partly to blame.

As we continue to promote get-out-the-vote campaigns online, it important to remember the main fight isn’t only virtual, it’s also with these silenced communities who can even educate us about social issues that our privileges protect and blind us to. Accessible voter education and empowerment doesn’t only ensure that electorates making the right choice but over time it can also eliminate vote-buying, violence, and voter intimidation to secure the future of the country.

Here are 4 practices you can do at home to promote voter empowerment:

1. Let your Ates and Kuyas at home join the conversation.

Political debates can be scary and oftentimes even avoided but during the election season, it allows us to gain new insights and perspectives. When you’re discussing politics at the dining table or even planning your registration, ask for your household helps opinions and a create healthy discourse. If they haven’t registered, make them part of the plan so they don’t feel intimidated doing it on their own.

2. Aid others in completing the proper requirements.

Another common reason why people don’t register is because of strict voter IDs and ballot requirements. To register, one needs to present a COMELEC approved ID and the voter’s registration forms. Luckily for us, everything can be found online, so help those who aren’t digitally-savvy by sitting down with them and helping them fill out the proper forms and acquire the proper IDs online. 

3. Validate their right to vote.

Many in the silenced communities think that with the millions of people voting, their single vote won’t make a difference, making them vulnerable to the corruption that goes around during election season. By actively listening to their struggles and resource-sharing about the benefits of voting it can lead to a collective voter empowerment and political inclusion towards electing a good government.

4. Keep updated and stay vigilant.

When campaign season starts, it’s important to keep updated and make the effort to listen to the platform and plans that each candidate presents. Remind those within and outside your circle to look beyond the catchy advertisements and staying vigilant with circulating news. Through this we can all actively fight fake news and arm ourselves with the right information.